The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

Love it, Hate it, or completely indifferent towards it, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is probably the most discussed entry in the entire Zelda franchise. This is due to a number of risks the game takes with art style, gameplay, and even story. Some people hold Skyward Sword as one of the greatest innovations in the series, while others treat it as the ruination of the series. The game has some flaws, but it also does a number of things right and certainly deserves to be called a Zelda title.


Skyward Sword tries to balance out the art styles of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker by creating a watercolor-esque design. This works in the games favor for the most part. Environments look great and are filled with lots of interesting details. The forest of Faron Woods have tons of little insects and plants that litter the area, giving the player a better simulation of a forest. These areas take more inspiration from Wind Waker, but they don't feel quite as lively. They are nicely designed and detailed, but they still feel barren. The character models take on more of a Twilight Princess approach and go for realism over blocky figures that are super expressive. While most of the characters are simple, Ghirahim, Groose, and Fi are particularly well designed. While the game does look great, it doesn't quite hit that gritty realism of Twilight Princess and it can't quite match the abundant charm of Wind Waker. It just ends up somewhere in the middle.

The biggest complaint I have is the design of the races. The Kikwi's are kind of cute, but they all look the exact same. There is no differentiation between one of the other, except for Bucha the leader, who is just larger than the rest. The same thing can be said for the other two races, the Mogma and the Ancient Robots. The robots have a neat design, but it gets boring after you see the same one every time. I wish more thought would have gone into making these races unique in design because it would have made them much easier to care about.  

Zelda music has always been phenomenal, but Skyward Sword is a little lacking in that regard. The Skyloft theme is a pretty good overworld theme that fits the area well and The Ballad of the Goddess and Fi's Gratitude are exceptional pieces that take full advantage of Skyward Sword's orchestra. The other songs in the game are well done, but none really reach the levels of the previously mentioned two.

Overall the presentation gets the job done and has some really great elements, but it fails to deliver on all fronts. The game looks good, but fails to meet the charm of some of the past games. The soundtrack is good, but doesn't deliver tons of memorable tunes.

Origins of the Zelda World

Skyward Sword serves as the origin point of the entire Zelda universe. The Link that you play as in this game is supposed to be the original Hero and bearer of the Triforce of Courage. This game takes place so early in the timeline that Ganondorf isn't even a character yet, which is a refreshing change of pace for the story. The origin storyline accomplishes its task of setting up the world of Hyrule, the Master Sword, and the characters that form the remainder of the series.

One of Skyward Sword's greatest accomplishments is its cast of characters. The Zelda presented in Skyward Sword is the most relatable and friendly Zelda yet. Skyward Sword is really the first game to show a relationship between Link and Zelda, which makes your task of saving her all the more important. Early in the game Zelda will engage in playful banter and even attempt to push you off the Goddess Statue after giving you the Sailcloth. It is definitely one of the best portrayals of Zelda in the series. Ghirahim is also a standout villain for the series. He thrives on sheer insanity, but he also has a certain elegance about him. His writing is some of the best in the game because of his over the top speech pattern. Watching his slow descent into madness is one of the more intriguing elements of the story. Groose, a character that feels very much like a typical bully turns out to be a great example of character development. Through various circumstances, Groose gets involved in the main plotline and begins to realize that he isn't as great as he thinks he is. He also provides great comic relief throughout the game.

The writing in the game is pretty hit or miss, but most of the time it is reminiscent of the fairy tale story telling from past games, particularly Ocarina of time. The main heroes and villains have great dialogue and perfectly play off each other. Zelda's dialogue with both Link and Impa is particularly well done. The dragons of each area have the worst dialogue, most of the time being groan worthy.

The actual story itself is solid, but formulaic. The ending is the best part of the game, with some really well done conclusions to the characters stories. The story falls victim to a ton of padding and the pacing suffers for it. Towards the end of the game particularly the game is padded out for extra gameplay time. The gameplay isn't all the great in those missions and it makes the story suffer.

Once again the biggest complaint against the story is the races of the game. None of the races have any personality, and the little character they are given is bland and boring. The Mogmas like to hunt for treasure, and the game makes sure you know it. That is the only thing they talk about the entire game. The Kikwis are just scared of everything it seems. And the robots are... well, robots. With as much characterization these races are given they may as well all be robots. That might make them more interesting.

Motion Everything!                             

Skyward Sword is the second Zelda game to release on the Nintendo Wii. Unlike the previous entry Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword uses motion control for almost every element of the game. Everything from sword combat, archery, throwing bombs, and even swimming is handled by moving the wii remote in some capacity. The good thing is that this usually works in the favor of the game.  

Swordplay is the main focus of the game and Nintendo gives you an 8 way swordplay combat system. You can swing horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and piercing, which makes every fight feel more real than ever before. Every encounter feels more like a puzzle than just slashing at the enemy. Bokoblins will block your attacks which means you have to adjust your swings to actually attack them. Other enemies will have weak spots that only appear after bombing them and then stabbing a diamond in the center of the enemy. Combat feels way more engaging this way, but you will occasionally have some errors with the Wii remote and you'll need to recalibrate and center the wii remote, but it's more of an annoyance than anything.

Everything else works pretty well, but some of it feels unnecessary. There is no reason to control swimming with the motion controls other than to show them off. This makes performing certain actions more annoying than they need to be.

The Silent Realm segments are arguably some of the most interesting segments in the game. They take elements from the Phantoms of Phantom Hourglass and the tear collection of twilight princess. By combining these things it makes both of those sections more interesting. You must collect tears while avoiding Guardians. If they hit you then you must restart the entire segment. Sometimes this is an annoyance but it makes these sections way more intense.

The most important element of any Zelda game though is...

The Dungeons

Skyward Sword has probably the most definitive collection of dungeons in the series. The first two dungeons are decent, but not spectacular. After you get through those two you'll find yourself at the Lanayru mines. This dungeon is filled with time puzzles that really test your knowledge. The Ancient Cistern and Sandship are also really complicated, but rewarding. The Ancient Cistern is based on Buddhist mythology and has two floors. The top floor is symbolic of Heaven and everything is gold and beautiful. Eventually you must descend into the bottom floor, which is essentially hell. This idea of Heaven and Hell makes the Ancient Cistern one of the more symbolic and interesting dungeons in the series.

The bosses are also really well done. Kaloptos, Ghirahim, and Molderach are all really interesting and use Skyward Sword's unique gameplay to its fullest potential. Ghirahim and Molderach revolves around precise sword swings and strategy to defeat. Kaloptos provides you the best use with Skyward Swords whip. You must pull off his arms, then use his sword to hack him to pieces. This is incredibly rewarding. The only problem with the bosses is that Ghirahim is rehashed in the Fire Sanctuary and again at the end of the game. The fights are always fun, but disappointing that you don't get another creative boss.

Final Verdict

In the end Skyward Sword may not have been the Zelda game that people were expecting, and it certainly isn't the best game in the series. That being said, it is definitely worth a playthrough for all of the great components that it has. Sometimes areas can be a bit of a slog, sometimes you'll run into a problem or two, and the races are insufferable, but it still has a lot of entertainment value and is definitely worth a try.


Much more interactive Swordplay

Great characters

Colorful art style with a good sense of atmosphere


Awful races that are boring and lifeless

Typical motion control problems/ uneccesary motion controls

Some awkward pacing of the story


Final Score: 8.5